For the second consecutive start, the Baltimore Orioles all but wasted a spectacular effort by starter Wei-Yin Chen, and thus ended up on the losing end. Chen’s line: 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 2 K. As I said last week when the O’s fell to Seattle (ironically by the same score), if a pitcher has ten good starts, ten poor, and ten in the middle, the last thing you want to do is drop some of the good ones. Having said that, Oriole bats can’t totally be blamed for this loss – per se. We really saw the advantage that National League teams have in these series’ when Chen himself (a not-so-accomplished hitter) came up to bat with two outs and the bases loaded in the second. Naturally Chen struck out, ending the inning.
The Orioles took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third following a Nate McLouth lead off walk and Chris Davis reaching on an error (which allowed Machado to go to third). McLouth would score on an Adam Jones sac fly; keep in mind that San Francisco is a big-time pitcher’s park. Granted it’s not a pitcher’s park in the tradition of Oakland or Seattle which have cornfields of real estate in foul ground, however the dimensions of the ballpark and the way the ball carries tends to play more so to pitchers than hitters. So in manufacturing runs and playing these close, low-scoring games the Orioles are playing to the dimensions of the ball park.
The Orioles’ lead lasted until the sixth inning, Marco Scutaro tied it with an RBI-single. Later in the inning Hunter Pence would chime in with an RBI-double, and suddenly San Francisco had a 3-1 lead in the game. The Orioles would make a comeback attempt in the eighth when Chris Davis smacked his 42nd home run of the season to bring the score to within 3-2, however San Francisco’s bullpen would shut the Birds down for the remainder of the afternoon and the Orioles fell by that 3-2 final.
Speaking for myself I’ve always been a proponent of interleague play, and everything that comes with it. Furthermore, I’ve never liked the DH rule because I feel that pitchers should in fact have to swing the lumber in games. But it’s easy to say that the Orioles missed an opportunity to score back in the second inning during Chen’s at-bat, and they certainly did. But I’m not sure exactly how “accountable” we can hold Chen in that circumstance. If that’s Brian Roberts, Taylor Teagarden, etc. in that spot, for all we know things turn out the same. But again, that illustrates how NL teams do in fact have an advantage in these games.
The Orioles are still a game-and-a-half back of Tampa for second place in the AL East, and a game-and-a-half back of Oakland (who’s overtaken Texas for the moment) in the wild card race. If Oakland continues to be in that position it works to the Orioles’ favor in a way because they come to Camden Yards in two weeks. Bud Norris will make his third Orioles’ start in this afternoon’s series finale, and he’ll be opposed by Matt Cain; game time is set for 4 PM.